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Unformatted text preview: 2 PSYCHOTHERAPY IN AUSTRALIA VOL 12 NO 4 AUGUST 2006 I magine a therapy that makes no attempt to reduce symptoms, but gets symptom reduction as a by- product. A therapy firmly based in the tradition of empirical science, yet has a major emphasis on values, forgiveness, acceptance, compassion, living in the present moment, and accessing a transcendent sense of self. A therapy so hard to classify that it has been described as an existential humanistic cognitive behavioural therapy. Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, known as ACT (pronounced as the word act) is a mindfulness- based behavioural therapy that challenges the ground rules of most Western psychology. It utilizes an eclectic mix of metaphor, paradox, and mindfulness skills, along with a wide range of experiential exercises and values-guided behavioural interventions. ACT has proven effective with a diverse range of clinical conditions; depression, OCD, workplace stress, chronic pain, the stress of terminal cancer, anxiety, PTSD, anorexia, heroin abuse, marijuana abuse, and even schizophrenia. (Zettle &amp; Raines, 1989; Twohig, Hayes &amp; Masuda, 2006; Bond &amp; Bunce, 2000; Dahl, Wilson &amp; Nilsson, 2004; Branstetter, Wilson, Hildebrandt &amp; Mutch, 2004). A study by Bach &amp; Hayes (2002) showed that with only four hours of ACT, hospital re-admission rates for schizophrenic patients dropped by 50% over the next six months. The goal of ACT The goal of ACT is to create a rich and meaningful life, while accepting the pain that inevitably goes with it. ACT is a good abbreviation, because this therapy is about taking effective action guided by our deepest values and in which we are fully present and engaged. It is only through mindful action that we can create a meaningful life. Of course, as we attempt to create such a life, we will encounter all sorts of barriers, in the form of unpleasant and unwanted private experiences (thoughts, images, feelings, sensations, urges, and memories). ACT teaches mindfulness skills as an effective way to handle these private experiences. What is mindfulness? When I discuss mindfulness with clients, I define it as: Consciously bringing awareness to your here-and-now experience with openness, interest and receptiveness. There are many facets to mindfulness, including living in the present moment; engaging fully in what you are doing rather than getting lost in your thoughts; and allowing your feelings to be as they are, letting them come and go rather than trying to control them. When we observe our private experiences with openness and receptiveness, even the most painful thoughts, feelings, sensations and memories can seem less threatening or unbearable. In this way mindfulness can help us to transform Acceptance and Commitment Therapy is one of the recent mindfulness-based behaviour therapies shown to be effective with a diverse range of clinical conditions. In contrast to the assumption of healthy normality of Western psychology, ACT assumes...
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- Clinical Psychology, emotional control, private experiences